She girds herself with strength; she exerts her arms with vigor. -Proverbs 31:17
Have you ever invited God to workout with you? Perhaps you’re already leading a healthy lifestyle and have found a nice balance of maintaining your physical and spiritual wellbeing. If so, kudos to you!
For the rest of us, trying to find the time to care for our bodies and also spend time with Jesus can be a daunting task. Being a new mom, I already feel strapped for time most days. Between looking after my infant, hanging out with my husband, and tackling the (never ending) amount of household chores, carving out some time for myself usually falls to the end of the list. When I do find a spare moment, it can seem like a toss-up: do I workout or spend it in the Word/prayer instead?
The good news is that there is a way for us to care for both our physical bodies and souls simultaneously. 1 Corinthians tells us that our “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” and to “glorify God in your body” (6:19-20). Feeling good physically can help us to become better in our lives overall–better wives, mothers, friends, daughters, church-goers, and ultimately, better servants for the Lord.
The first thing to remember is that God wants us to take care of our bodies. After all, He created them. Psalm 139:14 says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
There is no better accountability partner in our health journey than God, for He values our bodies even more than we do.
How to Nurture Your Soul and Your Body
If you are looking for inspiration on how to integrate God more into your fitness routine, below are some ideas to get you started.
Pray during your workout.
Sounds easy enough, right? Whether running, hiking, biking, or other exercise, working out offers a great opportunity to have a conversation with Jesus. For example, while preparing for a marathon, a friend of mine would pray the Rosary during his training runs. While on the treadmill or elliptical machine, you can listen to a podcast like Pray As You Go, a daily prayer session which combines music, Scripture, and some questions for reflection.
Take a faith-based class.
You can find dedicated workouts focused on exercise and the Catholic Faith. Pietra Fitness combines Catholic prayer and spirituality with the physical practice of stretching and strengthening postures. SoulCore is a movement that pairs core strengthening, stretching, and functional movement with the prayers of the Rosary. More about Pietra Fitness and SoulCore can be found in this interview with the creators.
Learn as you sweat.
There are countless podcast options out there that can help you get more educated about Christ while you exercise. Some of my favorites include The Catholic Feminist, CatholicCreatives.org (features interviews with leaders in the Catholic creative world), and Sunday homilies from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Build community through exercise.
Invite your small group or fellow parishioner to the gym, to train for a marathon together, to go on a hike, or to even tackle a pilgrimage like the Camino de Santiago. It’s a great way to grow fellowship in new and healthier ways beyond Sunday Mass. You can even join a group like Catholic Women Run, which offers a 12-week training plan along with prayers and a printable journal.
Remember, rest is ok.
Whether you’re walking furiously to hit those 10,000 steps on your Fitbit or killing it in cardio, make sure to build in those rest days. Rest does not mean you are weak or lazy. If you don’t take time to rest, an injury could eventually force you to. Even God rested on the seventh day.
Thank God after your workout.
Before I move on with the rest of my day, I like to pause and think about how I carved out that time to take care of my body. I thank God for the health and energy that He’s given me. After you exercise, simply acknowledge the effort you put in and lift that up to God with gratitude.
Gym Time with Jesus
God wants to be present in every part of our day and all aspects of our lives. Health and wellness are no different. Whether I’m meditating on a simple Scripture during a grueling training session, or focusing on a particular prayer intention as I stretch, I end up feeling both physically and spiritually rejuvenated.
Have you found unique ways to integrate your prayer life into your fitness routine? If so, share in the comments below!
April Deocariza is a Southern California native now living the expat life in Germany. When not working full-time as a mommy to her six-month-old son, she loves trekking around Europe and enjoying delicious food. Relaxing with a coffee, warm cookie, and a napping child is her happy place. Find out more about her here.